What I’m doing with my Summer Vacation, Part 1

Wow, what a week. I started it with being a part of the #1mpf, 5th Annual 1 Minute Play Festival in Atlanta, as a director (the previous years spent as a playwright). 2 nights of over 90 1 minute plays, 14 directors, 13 clumps of 5 to 8 actors.  This year was extraordinary as I came in last minute, pulled together a fantastic cast (again, thank you to Amanda Cucher, J.L. Reed, Nicola Vann, Parris Sarter, and the ever wonderful Pat Young.)  Thanks to @DominicDandrea for taking a chance with me.

But now.

It’s time to introduce the new draft of  The Last Time We Were Here in a showcase one weekend only performance! I was brought on as dramaturge and it’s been wonderful to work with Jessica De Maria (playwright), Jen Acker (director), and Jeremiah Hobbs (Composer) for the first time. Don’t miss having the chance to be one of the first people to fall in love with this show. Friday 8pm, Saturday 8pm, Sunday 5pm. Seating is limited so make a reservation!

Branden Hembree as Jacob in The Last Time We Were Here

Branden Hembree as Jacob in The Last Time We Were Here

The Last Time We Were Here

Branden Hembree (Jacob) and Kristina Adler (Grace)

The Last Time We Were Here, Let's Collide

Branden Hembree as Jacob in The Last Time We Were here, playing with his band.

1 year later

 

 

 

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Jo Howarth Noonan

 

A year ago, On a Sunday, Jo and I met for our recently agreed to weekly walks, only 2 weeks in the making. I made her laugh so hard, she had to stop walking for a moment, and she repaid me immediately. We stood and laughed until we had tears in our eyes. She asked for some advice on audiobook narration and seemed really excited by what I said. Said she would try it that week. She divulged some dreams she had been having and her interpretations of them. I remember when our walk was done, I realized I’d forgotten to ask her for some advice on a personal situation I was experiencing, and I thought to myself, it’s okay, you’ll talk to her next week on your walk. Also, I reminded myself, make ticket reservations to see her in SYLVIA, her current production at Stage Door Players.

Make them for the following weekend, I thought to myself as I drove off.
 
Monday came, and she and I exchanged some texts and fb messages, mostly her supporting me through whatever tantrum I was going through.
 
Tuesday came and went. Pretty fast. Because it wasn’t until Wednesday morning that I realized, Damnit. I didn’t talk to Jo yesterday. It’s okay. I’ll send her a message later. I got in my car and began my drive to the drama camp I was teaching for when Stacy (my best friend) called me. She asked if I’d seen on FB that morning about Jo.
 
I hadn’t.
 
There was still hope in the morning.
By afternoon, it had disappeared.
Jo didn’t return to us in a way that was familiar to us at the time.
 
It’s beyond comprehension all the moments taken for granted.
I still do it. Even after that week. You’d think I’d know better.
I know what Jo would say to me, “Well, you can’t expect to stop being human. You can only increase your awareness how to be better. Be ready to fail at that all the time.”

Discomfort Zone

“If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, then you’re not working in the right area…”
To me, it’s the idea of cartoon physics: As long as I just keep focused on what I was trying to do, or as long as I get scream I CAN’T DO IT, the whole time i’m doing it… and I never look down or stop…
I’ll be fine.
It’s a nerve-wracking way to exist. But it gets shit done.

You don’t got some mansplainin’ to do ….

Listen. Here’s the thing. I grew up in a house of 4 women (my sisters and mom) and 1 man (my father).
 
My mother (who grew up in a house of 8 children— where the girls outnumbered the boys) had already endured the patriarchy of her culture, despite the natural leanings of her personality, which is where *sigh* I am well aware I get mine. Although my father was progressive for women’s rights as compared to others within the Islamic/Egyptian culture, it was never to be questioned that his interruptive/dismissive/judgemental word was the end of the line. So, mom never fought to be heard. She just nodded and then did what she wanted to do anyway, acquiring a manipulative survival trait Because she didnt learn any other way.
 
When I was growing up, I learned to stop talking when my father started OR when he turned up the volume on the TV. I was told repeatedly, by him, that I didn’t understand a multitude of things. My frustration was born against my mother, whom I would talk over, or my sisters, and I would often be told that I was being arrogant or condescending, because the tone I was taking to be heard became so aggressive and overbearing in my desperation to be allowed to speak. This was an unfortunate habit I developed due to my inane need to be heard combined with the taught practice of don’t speak.
 
This has carried into my adult life. I make jokes of it now: The vocal stance I take, as if my voice is getting into the ready position, when I speak because I bear down, I bend my knees in an attack position and all of it is a horrible way to address people; it lacks respect. So, I’ve been working on it. Poorly. But. I’ve been working on it.
 
This is why, when the term “mansplaining” came about, I didn’t understand it. I talk over everybody. When I left my parents’ house, that vocal stance I took? Outside of the walls of my family’s house? Became accepted as my personality (for better or worse). So. I didn’t get it. I was loud. Brash. Braying. Strident.
 
YET. In the last year alone, i’ve found myself just…shutting up, like I used to, with my dad. I don’t know why. I just. Go quiet. 8 times out of 10. It’s almost become a study. To see if it’s noticed, my sudden quiet. Especially with the men I know very well in my life. I find myself waiting to see who will turn around and say, “What do you think, Suehyla?”
 
it’s disheartening to see the men in my life who unintentionally reveal themselves as this.